Stop Fundamentalism – Amnesty International reported Monday that the Syrian intelligence agents in Europe and the United States have been monitoring, threatening and harassing dissidents living in these countries who voice their concerns about the treatment their countrymen receive at the hands of Bashar Al-Assad forces.
30 activists in eight countries have approached Amnesty International complaining threats and harassments they received from embassy officials. Some say their relatives in Syria have been subject to harassments, detention and torture due to their activities abroad.
The dissidents interviewed by Amnesty lived in Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA.
“Expatriate Syrians have been trying, through peaceful protest, to highlight abuses that we consider amount to crimes against humanity – and that presents a threat to the Syrian regime,” says an Amnesty researcher assigned to Syria, Neil Sammonds. “In response the regime appears to have waged a systematic – sometimes violent – campaign to intimidate Syrians overseas into silence,” he says as reflected in an AI reports in this regard.
Amnesty says that dissidents were filmed and photographed outside the embassy by Syrian officials and then they were telephoned, email or contacted through Facebook after identification.
Naima Darwish in Chile who runs an opposition Facebook page was contacted by a senior official and told not to continue her activities or else she would not be able to return to Syrian, she told Amnesty.
Imad Mouhlahel told Amnesty that his brother was detained and tortured in Syria for four days after he attended protests outside the embassy in Spain.
A 38-year-old artist, Malek Jandali, parents were harassed after he performed at a dissident gathering in Washington in front of the White House in July, say Amnesty International report. “This is what happens when your son mocks the government,” the attacking agents told Malek’s parents as they looted their home in Homs.
Amnesty International called on all countries to protect the right to freedom of association and expression and take strong measures against Syrian embassies.
The report recognizes that the governments of United States and United Kingdom have raised concerns with the Syrian Embassy.
“Many of the people we have spoken to are too scared of what could happen to them to make formal complaints with the police,” said Neil Sammonds, another protester to Amnesty adding, ”We would expect that any official found responsible for such acts should be prosecuted, or – if diplomatic immunity prevents that – asked to leave the country.”